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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 4: Africa: Part Three: "It is important to understand that the Apocalypse demons are not invaders trying to conquer new lands or to enslave people, but that they crave total destruction of all life forms, including, animals, insects, and plants!"

Now, time to talk about Africa- no?

No. No Africa. Time for something more important to Kevin. Yes, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yes, he is blowing his monster-load up front all over us. And these aren't even monsters thematic to Africa. But Mr. Long has some cool art worthy of being airbrushed on a black t-shirt. Yes, this also means he's opening the book with the end bosses for some reason, right where players are likely to stumble across their statblocks.


Skull Count +3. Skull Total: 23

So, factoids about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:
  • They aren't interested in conquest.
  • They want to kill everything.
  • Yes, everything. They want ants to die. They want grass to die. They want tubers dead. Die, tubers, die.
  • They have no backstory, no origin, no history.
  • It's not even really clear what they are.
  • When they meet during a Solar Eclipse they form up like Voltron and become the Apocalypse Beast.
  • In case you're wondering, Death forms the head. No kidding.
  • They don't actually ride horses. They ride netherbeasts. What's a netherbeast? It's a thing they ride, of course.
And so the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, have come to different parts of Africa. (Why they didn't just all appear together isn't clear.) By meeting up during a Solar Eclipse, they can join into one really big monster. (How they knew this was going to occur isn't clear.) It really helps to have a wizard help them merge up. (Apparently "Rama-Set" will help them out. We don't know who he is yet, or how they know to meet up with him.) And they all know how to meet up with each other. This happens by "instinct", it says. Coincidentally, this will happen in Egypt. You know. The center of Africa.

So the idea is that each of them is marching across Africa to Egypt, and that it's easier if you fight them one by one. Oh, and you're supposed to fight Death last as the end boss, but the PCs have no way of knowing that, so good luck! In any case, they have rush and gather aid and stomp the horsepersons one by one.

Oh, yeah, and you can't kill them permanently, they're just banished for 50,000 years. The text helpfully points out it'll probably take them longer than that to get back to Earth, because they have other worlds to de-life.

Death



Skull count +1. Skull total: 24

Death is basically the brains of the operation. He's the smartest and the most powerful. The interesting bit is that he's banned from just killing people for shits or giggles; he can only murder people who attack him first. He can shove people around and threaten them all he likes, but unless you attack him, he can't seriously harm or kill anyone. Of course, it's presumed most people will fight or flight against him, and he gets to smug it up when people attack first, since he's pretty good at murders. He does live up to his name.

And his netherbeast and undead minions are also bound by the same stricture - they can't attack unless attacked. He can release undead to go wild and kill stuff, but then he can never take control of them again.

We get a note that he has a "greatest" rune weapon. Not great. Not greater. Greatest. It directs us to Rifts® World Book Two: Atlantis for details.

Numbers! He has 16,633 M.D.C. and regenerates an average of 42 M.D.C. a second. He takes double damage from magic fire (not too many spells make this), double damage from magic weapons (really not many of these outside of rune weapons), double damage from silver weapons (double... S.D.C. damage?), and ten times damage from weapons from Millennium Trees (which means they do pretty great damage, buy/see Rifts® World Book Three: England). He has 5000 P.P.E. and 500 I.S.P. And special powers!


Skull count +3. Skull total: 27.
  • He can attach other people's limbs to his body, and they become M.D.C. limbs.
  • He can mash up body limbs into "Nightmare Zombies" and animate them to make zombie performance art. They can't really do crap for damage, but they get an average of 250 M.D.C., so equivalent to a lot of greater monsters.

Skull count +1. Skull total: 28
  • He can animate 1d4 x 100 bodies at a time, a dumb rule, because when do you roll it? If he doesn't like the amount of bodies he's raised, can he just do it again until he rolls a 4?
  • He can people decayed skin which destroys pretty much all your skills and bonuses, and gives everyone around you combat penalties because they're sickened. (He is not immunized against this, which I guess means it grosses even him out.)
  • He can also inflict rigor mortis which basically destroys your ability to fight too.
  • He can cast spells as an 18th level ley line walker or necromancer. There are no rules for spellcasters beyond 15th level, but what the hell.
  • He's also a 18th level psychic! He can make a psi-saber and shoot mind blasts and make people feel sad and depressed.
  • Death has a 92% chance of evoking fear. Yes, we know there's an actual mechanic for creatures that create fear (Horror Factor), so he has that too, at 19. So the average PC will have a 0.5% chance of not being scared of him. Of course, his ability to evoke fear (derived from his Mental Affinity) doesn't have any actual mechanics associated with it, so it's not clear what it does anyway...
  • He has a Staff of Death! It has bat wings that let it fly around, because there ain't nothin' scarier than a flyin' bat-staff. It can raise the dead (even though he can do that anyway), shoot lightning bolts from its eyes, and... does extra damage against undead. Kind of like Superman carrying around kryptonite bullets, but and you can't steal it, it just magically goes back to him no matter what whenever he wants.
  • Oh, and the weapon is a soul drinker. Which means there's really no point in using all his fancy decay / rigor mortis abilities when he can just poke you with his stick and force an unmodified save-or-die.
  • Devil Skulls - he's got 'em! They're skulls that turn into winged demonic skeletons that are pretty darn tough.

Skull count +2. Skull total: 30
  • His netherbeast is named "Bones" (no, really) and is pretty drat tough at 1200 M.D.C. Other than being super-tough, it's nothing special, though it can pounce at 90% chance of knockdown and 60% chance of pinning. Yeesh. So now we know Death owns Bones.


Skull count +25. Skull total: 55

Famine


Skull count +2. Skull total: 57

... let's move on to Famine, another dickless horror. He's the stealth action sort of horseman and often likes to cause droughts and destroy food sources without people knowing, and also trying to instigate conflict in those ways. Also, Pestilence is his bro and they like to cause trouble together.

No real personality beyond that, we get numbers!
  • 6,753 M.D.C., 2500 P.P.E., 250 I.S.P. Track that poo poo, GMs! He has the same vulnerabilities as Death, and recovers about 4 M.D.C. a second. Horror factor is 16 and he has a 80% chance to evoke fear.
  • Like Death, he's immune to a bunch of stuff. Including magic herbs. Just in case you were going to stand in front of him as he charges while holding a sprig of enchanted parsley.
  • 12th level psychic and wizard that gets a bunch of mid and low level magic, physical psychic powers, weather magic, etc.
  • He can spoil drink and water with a touch, and eating it makes people sick. Also gives them... diaaaarrrhhheeeeaaaa.
  • By touching people he can make them magically hungry and all they can do is look around for food to eat until they get sick from eating.
  • Everybody around him gets distracted because they get hungry.
  • He can detect water (so he can piss in spoil it).
  • He can also muck about with weather to cause heat waves, droughts, frost, hail storms, and high winds.
  • His rune staff can shoot beams of energy from its eyes, call down lightning, drink souls, etc.
  • His netherbeast is called Cyno (that's Greek for "dog", FYI) and is mildly weaker than Death's.


Skull count +5. Skull total: 62

Next: Pestilence and War! The Armageddon Beast! The skulls don't stop here!

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 23:47 on Jun 8, 2013

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Mimir
Nov 26, 2012


Alien Rope Burn posted:


Skull count +25. Skull total: 55

It seems like it would be difficult to get on the back of a netherbeast to ride it. It's a big production just to mount an elephant, and they have trunks, and legs that can bend. I can't even imagine how that thing sits, either - that weird claw protrusion sticking out of the back of each leg looks like it would hurt to sit on.

Maybe Death just clambers up that pile of skulls like you or I would a rock climbing wall.

Plutonis
Mar 25, 2011


You know, after marathoning this thread I've been hankering to make a run of 3D&T Alpha. It's the latest version of the Defensores de Tóquio, which Cyphoderus reviewed on the first thread. It's a rejiggered version of the third edition of 3D&T, which was the most popular national RPG here in Brazil, and the first one played by many people (me included, back in 2001)!

So, let's start talking about 3D&T Alpha!




(The cover itself is a huge in-joke for people acquainted with the System and its history. It features characters from Holy Avenger, a comic that like the anime Slayers, was a pastiche of tabletop tropes with a somewhat dramatic story too. That Elven girl also was dressed in an outfit made just of belts which tells you a lot of what you'd expect from the comic. She's also a common cosplay target here in Brazil, which is astounding. )

The thing about Defensores de Tóquio is that it was conceived as A: A game that beginners would find easy to play and veterans would enjoy using and B: An incredibly modular system that one could use to adapt EVERYTHING. And indeed, as the creators also worked on the Dragão Magazine and later its competitor Dragonslayer, they released tons and tons of articles on how to use the game to run any flavor of the week Anime/Game/Movie/Comic Book around. On that matter it cribbed a lot from GURPS. It also had a semi-official setting, Tormenta, which the Holy Avenger comic was based of and also has a D20 adaptation which I may present here in the distant future.

Next Time: Part 1: The Hero!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults

Automata was, for three centuries, the greatest Mystery of House Verditius. They made mechanized beasts, birds and people for the most rich and powerful. All this changed in the 12th century with Icilius the Traitor, who taught others how to make automata, and now several powerful nobles and clergymen own some, and anyone who can pay can get one. Though still prized, the reputation of those who build these has diminished some. Verditius may learn to craft these via Initiation and ordeal, while other magi can attempt to learn it as a supernatural skill - difficult to learn, but possible, with a teacher or book on the subject. Verditius magi could in theory do the same, but the memory of Icilius' treachery is fresh, and any Verditius who used the Traitor's books rather than burning them immediately would be shunned or even cast out.

Automata are constructed facsimiles made from base material, generally wood, stone or metal, resembling beasts or humans and made of many gears, ropes and pulleys, joints, strings, weights and counterbalances. From a distance, they appear real, but close inspection reveals their artificiality. Imbued with magic, they can obey orders and perform tasks normally done by servants or slaves, and some can even manage complex orders. They do not have original thought at all, and even the most cleverly constructed can do nothing but obey orders. The construction of an automaton is a three-stage process: create the figure, prepare it for enchantment, then instill it with magic.

Making the automaton involves deciding on form and material. Size is based on the species you're trying to imitate, including human, and then you decide what material to make it of, with more solid materials being harder to work in general but producing a more potent automaton. Automata, being magical creatures, have Magic Might. The construction takes a full season and is quite costly in terms of money. If you screw up, you can try again next season, at rather lower cost. gently caress up massively, though, and you ruin the thing and have to start from step one. Verditius magi, and Verditius magi alone, may make the task easier via Verditius Runes as normal.

Now you have an automaton body. You're going to need quite a bit of Vis to prepare it for enchantment, which must be done within a single season. This cannot fail, assuming you're capable of channeling that much vis. The more potent the automaton, the more vis is needed. This price cannot be reduced by any of the House Mysteries, sadly. An automaton counts as a greater enchanted item, and may not be made into a talisman. However, Verditius mysteries that allow you to channel more vis than usual in a single season, such as the Elder Runes, can be used, for the affect you rather than the automata's cost. This stage is known as 'crafting the spirit', but this is mere jargon and no spirit is in fact bound.

Finally, it's time to enchant the fucker. This can take several seasons, as it counts as a greater enchanted item, and all enchantments are as normal, save that Verditius magi may use their Hubris when constructing automata enchantments. The amount of vis that can be used to enchant the automaton, however, is fixed by its power, and can never be changed by reforging or other Verditius Mysteries. The powers of an automaton can only affect itself, for they lack the intelligence to use their powers on others. Automata, being unintelligent, cannot maintain concentration duration, either. Each power needs a trigger to get the automaton to use it, too, generally a spoken command. You may optionally add a specialized effect that increases the level of the power: 'cease', which allows the automaton to turn off its power on command, too. Skills may also be instilled into the automaton, typically crafting or performance skills. (Martial skills are possible, but dangerous, for the automaton has no reason or thought.) Any skill so granted must be one the magus possesses, and the automaton's knowledge is limited by that of the magus. Common powers include the ability to follow the creator dutifully, move to designated areas, fly to designated spots if it has wings, sing like a bird or a person (with a set repertoire of songs), improved physical ability or the ability to appear as a fully living creature. Once enchantment is complete, you cast a final spell that binds it all together.

The complete automaton is essentially an NPC that lacks any thinking ability. Because they lack mind and always perform with mechanical precision, they can neither botch anything they do nor succeed at massive levels. They lack any mental abilities whatsoever. Each year, due to their complex nature, there is a chance that some part will break and weaken the overall being. Eventually, they will run down and cease to function. Any magus who knows how to create automata can repair a damaged one, restoring it towards its original state either in small steps that take days, or a full seasonal repair. However, only a Verditius with knowledge of reforging would be able to fix an automata that has run down completely.

Bind Curse was not one of the Mysteries taught by Verditius, but one discovered by the infamous Himinis the Mad, and it allows dire curses to be instilled into items. While they follow spell-like rules, these curses are not spells that can be cast - only effects instilled into enchanted items. They can be the sole purpose of a device, but are more commonly used to safeguard greater devices. The enormity of their power prevents them from being used as part of a charged device. Curses inflict a Flaw on their target, with minor Curses lasting several seasons and Major Curses lasting several years. The Parma Magica can stop it, but if it fails, the curse cannot be lifted easily. The magic is over an instant, you see, though the effects linger. This breaks the normal rules of magic, and is allowed only because of the Mystery's power. Each curse must have a trigger - at base, this is a spoken word or physical action, but it is more commonly a conditional trigger, so that the Curse won't go off by accident. For example, you might curse an item to afflict anyone who investigates the device with Vim magic, or to afflict anyone who uses a specific power of the device. The more conditions you put on, the harder the curse is to lay in.

Technically speaking, there is a set list of Curses that can be laid, all devised by Himinis when he discovered the Mystery. However, no complete list is given; rather, the GM is given free rein to decide a curse is inappropriate or too nasty and say that it is not on the roster. Minor Curses tend to be annoying but not especially dangerous, while Major Curses are quite dire. There's good reason that Himinis was widely feared. Common minor curses include weakened abilities, lessening of magic resistance, twisting of the spine to a hunchback, hideously ugly warts, the changing of the ears into rear end's ears, the turning of speech into a hideous croak or the development of cataracts. Common major curses include fast aging, leprosy, constant itching inflammation, brittle bones, the appearance of a demonic and hideous visage that makes speech more difficult, uncontrollable lust for sensual pleasure (not just sexual - food, alcohol, any physical desire) that is very hard to resist and makes people avoid you, and constant self-doubt. (Note: that sensual curse does not make you inflict your will on anyone - you just have a constant desire for pleasure and everyone avoids you because you're a selfish creep.)

The cursed can wait out their curse, though they won't have any real idea how long it will last in most cases. The magical nature of the Curse makes it very hard to remove, for it attaches to the victim like a leech Perdo Vim spells can remove it, but it's not easy, and must be done to avoid harming the target's Gift if they have one. Major Curses are even harder to remove, due to their increased power. It is possible to remove a Minor Curse by destroying the object that caused it, but mere breakage is insufficient - the magical power of the device must be drained away. (Typically, this means finding a Verditius who can smelt it down.) Major Curses cannot be removed by smelting, though - that just reduces the duration of the curse from years to seasons, which doesn't make magically removing the curse any easier. Magical or Divine beings of sufficient power can remove the curse via their inherent nature by breathing on the victim, which causes the curse to evaporate. Finding a being of sufficient power is a task in itself, though.

Binding Magical Creatures allows a magus to use the nature of a magical creature to empower an enchanted device in place of vis. Alternatively, they may transfer one of the beast's powers to themselves. This power was developed by Theban Verditius, for the Theban Tribunal is low in vis but high in magical creatures. Magical creatures can be bound to greater enchanted items, including talismans and attuned items. This happens at the same time as enchanting the item. Any creature can be bound if it has Magic Might and you can keep it contained in your lab for the whole period of enchantment. Usually this means you need wards and prisons, since they're not likely to stick around of their own accord and cooperate. This process does not use the vis that collects in the corpses of these beings; it draws on their magical life force, spending their Might as vis. Hubris assists the process. Once you've completely drained it, you need to use vis again. The Might being drained, unlike vis, is not aspected to any Form or Technique and may be used for any. Anything left over is wasted. A creature drained to Might 0 retains its magical nature, but may not use any of its powers if they cost Might.

Binding it to your Gift takes one season, and it's harder to do, since you must completely dominate its power. You may then select any one power it possesses, binding it to yourself. You may only have one power from one creature at a time, and this costs vis to perform. You may invoke the stolen power at will as though it were a spell, but you don't have to roll to cast it - it just happens. Typically, unless you are really potent when doing the binding, you must perform words and gestures to invoke the power, and this is not optional. Binding a creature in this way permanently weakens it. Last century, the magus Tierent of Verditius discovered how to apply the Mystery to Faerie creatures, too, and magi can do that now just by learning the Mystery. This is done in the same method as Magical beings, but is riskier, because the Faerie nature of the being gives a small chance of losing control of the process. Most magi are reluctant to use this Mystery on Faeries for fear of breaking the Code. Rumor suggests that perhaps Infernal or Divine creatures might be able to be adapted for this, but no proof exists.

Item Attunement allows a magus to attune a greater enchanted item in a similar manner that they can attune a talisman. They may sever the connection at any time without damage to the item or its powers. Attuned items are able to contain vast amounts of vis and thus magical powers, far beyond what their form would normally allow. These devices are greatly coveted as a result, not least because the nature of the magus lingers in them and triggers a greed for the device in anyone that holds it. Constructing an attuned item requires a season to prepare it, disregarding the normal limits from its form and imbuing it instead with an amount of vis based solely on the magus's power. All work to instill magic in the item is boosted by Hubris, due to the innate connection the item holds to the magus. This strong connection means that you can only work on one attuned item at a time. Until you sever the connection, it is an Arcane Connection to you, and the connection is severed only when you are done enchanting. (And even then, you can screw up the severing.) Once severed, it retains power due to you leaving a bit of your own personality into it. Specifically, greed based on your Hubris, which infects anyone who bears the device. Those who bear these devices will not give them up without struggle and always seek to retrieve them. Unlike a talisman, attuned devices do not extend a bearer's reach nor receive any effects from Personal Range spells or the user's Magic Resistance. However, due to the augmented vis capacity during enchantment, they are often more potent than most talismans.

The End!

Choose: Choices are: the True Lineage Houses of Hermes and their secrets (Houses of Hermes: True Lineages), more depth on Covenants (Covenants), the Societates Houses (Houses of Hermes: Societates), academic life (Art and Academe), the Church (The Church) or Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal), more depth on grogs (Grogs), Hungary and Bulgaria (Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal).

goatface
Dec 5, 2007

I had a video of that when I was about 6.

I remember it being shit.




Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Famine


Skull count +2. Skull total: 57

Hey! There's clearly flesh on that creature, he's got ears and everything.

Stop artificially inflating the skull count.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:




[*]Yes, everything. They want ants to die. They want grass to die. They want tubers dead. Die, tubers, die.

[/list]


Good luck with the ants, humans have been trying for a long time. Though really termites are the OH MY GOD they spit acid while blind insect menace in Africa.

quote:



Skull count +5. Skull total: 62

Next: Pestilence and War! The Armageddon Beast! The skulls don't stop here!

You drew like, the shortest straw. Man did I forget so much of how this book was bad. I mean like the entire Voltron plot using 'mythology that isn't intended to be Christian'. I don't mean the plot, I mean where it was attempted to be justifi--you know it doesn't matter, it's terrible.

Also did they stat out the ten knights who survived to Africa? 'Cause I don't recall them doing that and the intent seems to be that the PCs will encounter or be among those ten knights means a lot of--man Kevin Siembieda you can be kind of a dick.

occamsnailfile fucked around with this message at 01:29 on Jun 9, 2013

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


I vote for The Church. I need a break from the Order of Hermes after that update.

HitTheTargets
Mar 3, 2006

I came here to laugh at you.


I vote grogs.txt for pretty much the same reason.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Mimir posted:

It seems like it would be difficult to get on the back of a netherbeast to ride it.

Everything in Rifts makes a lot more sense once you think of every design as a plastic toy.

goatface posted:


Hey! There's clearly flesh on that creature, he's got ears and everything.

Look, I counted the Coalition skull-visor and the skull-logos on the monsters' harnesses too. If it helps he self-identifies as a skull.

I might fix it. I might not. Numbers are hard.

occamsnailfile posted:

Also did they stat out the ten knights who survived to Africa?

No. Sir Winslow Thorpe, Erin Tarn's constant companion and cyber-knight, is detailed. Remember him from the fiction I just covered? Well, no because he isn't in that. England? Well, no, I guess he got overlooked. Atlantis? Eh, nope. Vampire Kingdoms? Not in there either. Rifts RPG? Nope!

Who I mean is her constant companion that has never before been mentioned.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Seconding The Church, let's talk monastic orders baby.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I know it's Rifts and it's bad Rifts at that, but the Apocalypse Sentai Squad's designs really appeal to my inner thirteen year old. They're all pretty rad and you won't get me to say otherwise.

And to sperg out, Pestilence was never a horseman, it was Strife. It was war between nations, war within nations, common goods being made harder to get and then the death that followed.

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


Tasoth posted:

I know it's Rifts and it's bad Rifts at that, but the Apocalypse Sentai Squad's designs really appeal to my inner thirteen year old. They're all pretty rad and you won't get me to say otherwise.

And to sperg out, Pestilence was never a horseman, it was Strife. It was war between nations, war within nations, common goods being made harder to get and then the death that followed.

I always thought of them as Conquest, War, Famine, and Death.

I suppose you could call War Strife, but I like to think of them as a failed military expansion of an empire, given the Roman cultural context of the Book of Revelation.

Conquest leads to massive War, protracted War leads to food shortages and Famine, and people starve to Death.

Anyway, that's your Erebro :sperg: for the day, back to your regularly scheduled thread.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Alien Rope Burn posted:

I might fix it. I might not. Numbers are hard.
That's the Palladium spirit!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

It should be understood: The Church and the Divine nature of Christianity are not the same. This book is more about the people of the Church and their lives than any Divine power. The Church has some idea of what the Order of Hermes is, but it is left up to the GM and the group how much they actually know. And when we say the Church, we mean exclusively the Latin Church with this book. This is a book about the Latin Church centered on Rome. The Greek Church is beyond its scope.

The Church defines itself thusly: it is the whole body of believers united in Christ, and a powerful element of that is the congregation. France, Germany and England especially have many roles for the laity in the care and maintenance of the Church and its possessions. In cases where people have a serious problem with a priest, boycotting the local church is not uncommon, and neither is calling on Church fathers to replace them. There has in recent decades been a massive explosion of lay devotion and piety, and even a few saints canonized from the laity - a very new thing indeed. Most people in Christendom accept the Church's status, though impiety is still not uncommon, and in some parishes may even be the norm. This is not usual, however, and most people have a reverence for churches and priests. They can sense the sacred and the presence of God (in the form of the Dominion). Western Churches are quiet and solemn, for the most part, and many of the Fourth Crusade were shocked by the noise and chatter of Orthodox churches. Those places which have impious congregations tend to be blamed on the priest by the Church - after all, all congregations are sinners.


Purgatory may or may not exist.

Most accept the Church and its truth, and partake willingly of the sacraments. Even heretics seek reform, not replacement. Every person must attand Mass and taje communion at least once a year, most often on Easter Sunday, though most Sundays the congregation will gather anyway so communion is often done far more than that. Even daily, in some places. Just about everyone accepts the value of worship and the truth of Church claims, but their conscientousness towards religious duty varies wildly. The pious tend to be observant and act on their beliefs, while the majority go through the motions happily enough. The very impious mock, or fail to participate at all. Outright atheism is vanishingly rare and often a sign of subtle demonic influence. That said, all it takes to be Christian is this: take communion once a year and be baptized with water in the name of the Trinity. Do that, and you are entitled to a Christian burial, no matter how impious you were in life.


Dying is a big deal.

Indulgences are an important, if often misunderstood aspect of the faith. An indulgence is not a payment for remission of sins. That is the role of confession and absolution, and is granted by God with a priest following the correct sacraments. An indulgence simply mitigates the length of a decreed penance. If you have sinned, confessed and received absolution, you might receive a penance of a year or more on bread and water, and exclusion from church for that period. This period can be reduced by purchase of an indulgence, which is in theory accompanied by repentance, contrition and good works, which asks the saints to intervene for mercy with God and take on some of the penance themselves. Many believe that indulgences can be bought in life to reduce the length of suffering in purgatory after death, but as yet this is not defined by Church dogma, and may or may not be true. That hardly stops people from buying them for that purpose, though, rather than their proper role in reducing penance. Indulgences can also be granted as a reward for good works that support the Church's goals, such as joining a crusade or building a church. Indulgences are used to raise money to fund projects and good causes. They are always sold for a specific purpose and are accompanied by a nice, pretty certificate. They are often sold by wandering preachers, called questors, and the price is scaled based on what you can afford and how long the remission granted is. The poor donate what they can afford - perhaps six pennies for a season - while the wealthy pay at least a full pound for the same length. As well as buying the indulgence, you will need to spend a season engaged in charitable works to prove sincerity, earning a reputation for piety and perhaps even some temporary Faith.

It is also common for the devout to spend the night before an important event in prayer at a church, a practice known as the vigil. Performing the vigil is a very tiring affair, and the fatigue lost to it will not be restored without a full night's sleep, but those who stand vigil gain a Confidence point that may be spent the next day on a single, specified virtuous task. Fasting, on the other hand, involves abstinence from alcohol and rich food, subsisting only on bread and water, with maybe vegetables and beer depending on local custom. Some areas, especially in southern Europe, fast only for daylight hours, while other fasts may involve sexual abstinence as well as refraining from meat, dairy and poultry. Fasting is generally a penance though it can be done as a show of piety. Fasting lasts a full season, and it helps when invoking saints, but is a very tiring affair.

Great piety is exceptional, above and beyond what the Church requires, and is pursued as a way of life. The pious often choose to develop a special relationship with a particular saint, some aspect of the life of Christ or some aspect of the Virgin Mary. They focus their prayers, love and veneration through that relationship, asking them to intercede with God on their behalf. This is known as Devotion. Any character who has the Pious personality trait may have Devotions. Why have Devotions? Well, you can invoke any saint to which you have a Devotion regardless of whether they are your patron saint or even appropriate to the matter at hand, thanks to that established relationship. (Though anyone can invoke Mary at any time - she's nice that way.) Devotions increase the chance the saint will listen, too. Owning a relic to a specific saint helps with Devotion to that saint, even if you don't actually possess the Devotion normally.



There is a cost to Devotion, however. You must be sure to observe that saint's day each year, doing nothing on that day but veneration. You may, however, go out of your way to do more than maintain Devotion. You can improve it. Spending a full season in prayer and reverence for the saint is a great way to do it, as is endowing the construction of a church, chapel or monastery dedicated to the saint. Participating in a guild dedicated to the saint also helps, along with visiting sites associated with the saint, particularly if it requires a journey or pilgrimage, and especially a dangerous one. Sponsoring Church artwork associated with the saint is a great idea, as is studying the hagiographies of the saint's life, assuming you can read. Getting a saint recognized by Rome helps if they aren't already, as does witnessing miracles and sponsoring or participating in the feast day procession of the saint.

Devotion may be aimed at anyone popularly acclaimed as a saint, recognized or not. However, it is also, unfortunately, possible to be Devoted to and invoke or venerate a heretic or even a person aligned to another realm - even the Infernal. And yet, this is not so bad as it first sounds. Dulia, the proper respect granted an entity, is not worship and neither is Devotion to a saint. The saint is just asked to intercede with God. So if a faerie, magical being or demon is mistakenly venerated, it might still choose to help out with its powers, but no heresy is actually occuring. If latria, the worship meant for God alone, was to happen, that would be more serious. Even if offered to a saint or to the Virgin Mary, that kind of worship is a great sin, and to a demon or magical being...well, not a good idea.

Next time: Being sainted and taking pilgrimage.

Pussy Cartel
Jun 26, 2011





Lipstick Apathy

Alien Rope Burn posted:

So, there are actually two covers for this book. The first is from earlier printings, the second is from later printings. Why the change? No idea.

Just coming back to this, but there's a little blurb on the official Palladium FAQ saying that Kevin Long was fired from Palladium back in 95. No idea why, but I remember hearing somewhere that there was drama behind it, so that might be why they went and changed the cover.

Winter Stormer
Oct 17, 2012


Plutonis posted:

So, let's start talking about 3D&T Alpha!


I'm looking forward to this! They've named their Revised Edition like the best Street Fighter games, so how could it possibly be bad?

I already love how blatant the anime ripoff cover characters are. Mutants and Masterminds' generics were not particularly subtle, but Maria up there is literally just Makinami Mari with short blonde hair instead of long brown hair.

Winter Stormer fucked around with this message at 03:17 on Jun 9, 2013

Plutonis
Mar 25, 2011


Winter Stormer posted:

I'm looking forward to this! They've named their Revised Edition like the best Street Fighter games, so how could it possibly be bad?

I already love how blatant the anime ripoff cover characters are. Mutants and Masterminds' generics were not particularly subtle, but Maria up there is literally just Makinami Mari with short blonde hair instead of long brown hair.

They are pretty much Cosplaying there. Orange-haired guy is wearing Naruto's clothes, the Lizardman is wearing (National Hero) Blanka's shorts and sporting the same hairdo, while the other girl is wearing the same outfit as Yoko from TTGL.

Synthbuttrange
May 6, 2007



Death! Skeletal everything and your dick has rotted off, yet still has intact nipples.

Parkreiner
Oct 29, 2011


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Everything in Rifts makes a lot more sense once you think of every design as a plastic toy.

This is an actual piece of character creation advice in the gonzo Rifts-homage game Empire of Dust.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




Ryuutama, Summer Part 2: Condition

Condition is a very simple mechanic, but I think it lends Ryuutama a lot of its atmosphere in practice! Essentially, every morning of play, you roll STR+SPR, and the resulting number indicates how good you're feeling that day. Condition 3? You woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Condition 14? You're ready to take on the world.

In terms of mechanics, Condition has a few effects. If you roll a 10 or higher on your Condition Check, then you can choose one of your attributes and boost it by 2 for the rest of the day. On the other hand, if you fumble your Condition Check, you get an...



Ailment

Ailments, or statuses, or whatever you want to call them, are bad things that can happen to a character to affect their performance. There are six:

Injured: Sprained ankle, broken bone, or something else along those lines. Physical, reduces Agility by 2.
Poisoned: From a monster, a wild animal, or a plant. Physical, reduces Strength by 2.
Sick: Most games brush off the common cold, but think about it. Have you ever tried to do loving anything while you've got a bad one? Physical, reduces ALL attributes by 2.
Exhausted: From overwork or mental stress. Mental, reduces Spirit by 2.
Delirious: Gotta lay off the sauce, man. Mental, reduces Wisdom by 2.
Shocked: Dealt a devastating mental or emotional blow. Mental, reduces ALL attributes by 2.

When you fumble your Condition, you get to pick one of Injured 4, Poisoned 4, Exhausted 4 or Delirious 4 to be affected by. That number, by the way, is the severity of the ailment. Ailments don't just last for a few minutes or hours - they can potentially last for days. Every time you roll Condition for a new day, if your Condition is higher than the Ailment value, it is cured. Ailments can also be cured using magic, healing herbs, hiring a doctor, or temporarily healed using one of the Healer skills.

This was a short update, but I'm just getting back into the swing of this after dropping the ball for a week or two. Next will be more substantial, as we get into the TRAVEL RULES.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Pussy Cartel posted:

Just coming back to this, but there's a little blurb on the official Palladium FAQ saying that Kevin Long was fired from Palladium back in 95. No idea why, but I remember hearing somewhere that there was drama behind it, so that might be why they went and changed the cover.

There's always been some scuttlebutt that Long didn't get paid for this or that and had an acrimonious break, but Long essentially vanished from RPGs and has never spoken on it. Palladium says it was a clean exit, but they always claim that unless publicly contradicted. I think the official answer is just that Siembieda liked the second picture more in the end. (Why two were done, tho, I have no idea.) Certainly, Palladium has snuck in reusing Long art well after his departure and just scribbling out the signature (no, really).

Winter Stormer posted:

I already love how blatant the anime ripoff cover characters are. Mutants and Masterminds' generics were not particularly subtle, but Maria up there is literally just Makinami Mari with short blonde hair instead of long brown hair.

Naruto, Yoko, Mari, and Blanka. Blatantly.

Winter Stormer
Oct 17, 2012


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Naruto, Yoko, Mari, and Blanka. Blatantly.
Yeah, I only called out the one closest to source.


Plutonis posted:

They are pretty much Cosplaying there.
I see that now. I failed at reading comprehension the first go-round.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Kevin Long has been working for Raven Software as a concept artist since at least 2002. He never told me why he left Palladium except a comment that Siembada is a complete and total douche.

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011



Cynical-Pop Meikyuu Kingdom Dungeon Theater

Chapter 1: Kingdom Making!

Before making any characters, you've got to make a place for them to live. Makes sense, right? Of course it does! So, you'll get a sheet rather like this one, only without the helpful notations:



Probably having a hard time reading that, huh. Hence the helpful notations!

① - Kingdom Name. Self-explanatory.
② - Kingdom Level. Determined by total population; more peoples makes for a higher level. Since you start with 50 citizens, that makes for a Level 1 Kingdom.
③ - National Power. Determined by adding the total of four levels, each representative of your Kingdom's general capabilities: Quality of Life (economic prosperity), Culture (education/artistic expression), Public Order (internal security), Military (external security). The starting value for each level is 1. If any one of these levels is ever reduced to 0, the Kingdom is destroyed.
④ - Name of Royalty. Determined in the next chapter.
⑤ - State Religion. 95% certain this field's just for flavor. At least, if there's a single skill or effect that makes use of this, I have yet to see it.
⑥ - Terra Cognita. Essentially, this is the game map. Your Kingdom's Territories are recorded here, along with any other permanent landmarks you've discovered, such as rival kingdoms.
⑦ - Resources. From top to bottom:
  • Max. Population: Equal to [Number of owned Territories x 100]. Since you start with just one Territory, that makes this 100.
  • Citizens: This field is used during the game to keep separate track of "<Citizens> Remaining at the Kingdom" and "<Citizens> Assigned as <Staff>". More about what that actually means next chapter.
  • Vox Populi: Latin for "voice of the people". Measures how much confidence the people have in their rulers. Comes up a lot later on. Starts out at 10.
  • Budget: Divided into "Available Funds" and "Maintenance Costs". The specifics of these won't come up for a good while yet, so just remember "money" for now.
  • Environment: ...What the heck is this doing here? The first field is blank, and the second is "Total Number Killed". I don't remember this being used or mentioned anywhere in the rules, but I have been wrong before. Guess we'll find out together.
⑧ - Notables. Citizens in some way distinguished from the masses. Three columns: Landmakers, Prodigies, and Monstrous Citizens. The PCs are the Landmakers, the other two will be covered in a bit.

The second image is the flipside of the first, and is taken up chiefly by Diplomatic Relations. In the one corner is a blank space for notes, and in the other is a summary of some of the rules we're going to get to later.

With sheet in hand, it's time to start rolling! Pretty much everything in this chapter and the next can be determined by dice tables. Note that I said "can be", because the book explicitly states that using the creation tables is entirely optional - if you've got your own ideas, you are encouraged to run with them - but still strongly recommended for new players still getting used to the way the game runs. They also make for much more manageable examples, so yeah.

First up, rolling for your Kingdom's name. There are three Naming Tables: 1) a governmental type or overall philosophy, 2) a miscellaneous adjective or "personal" emblem, 3) what sort of place you're in. (In English, the end result comes out more like a general definition of the kingdom than a name, really, but it's still handy.) Each table takes a d66 roll, so three players make one roll each for one of the tables. If the final output isn't quite to everyone's taste, any other players who didn't make a roll can change one result apiece.

EXAMPLE posted:

Ryuujin rolls 45 against Table 1, JohnOfOrdo3 rolls 12 against Table 2, and dereku rolls 44 against Table 3. This makes "Imperial Unified Shogunate". Mr. Maltose decides to reroll Table 2, and gets 25: "Kitty". Nyaa decides to reroll Table 3, but just gets another 44... then they notice that, rules-as-written, they're not required to reroll at all, just change the result! So they look over the whole table and pick out "Planet". Final result: Imperial Kitty Planet! welcome to cat planet! oh yeah! (Actually, rules-as-written, they're not limited to picking a result from the tables, either, but as I said, I'm keeping it simple.)


Tower? Tree trunk? Beats me, but it sure is there, man.

Next comes the Kingdom's Environment. No apparent relation to that mystery field on the sheet, "environment" here refers to any unique features of the Kingdom itself or the surrounding area. This time, everybody gets a turn at rolling, including the GM. Environment rolls are in two parts: a 2D6 to determine the type of Environment, and a 1D6 against the appropriate table (sometimes with supplemental rolls for more specific results).

EXAMPLE posted:

Nyaa rolls 9 for a Facility, and a 6 against the Facility Table: "Your kingdom is very remotely situated." Did I cover Facilities in the glossary post? It's been so long, I can't remember. Just in case I didn't, Facilities are special rooms you can build for various beneficial purposes. Each Facility Table result has a supplemental D6 roll to determine a specific Facility; here, Nyaa gets a 5, for a free {Hunting Ground} (anyone who uses it before heading out to the dungeon gets a +1 bonus to hit).

JohnOfOrdo3 rolls 8 for a Resource, and a 3 against the Resource Table: "Your kingdom has struck up a co-existence with the dungeon's monsters." The Kingdom starts with one {Ranch} Facility (allows for breeding more Monstrous Citizens), and an extra 1D6 Monstrous Citizens, whose race is determined by another D6 roll. John rolls a 6 and a 2, making for six Horselizards. Now, the book says that special rules may exist for different types of Monstrous Citizens, but all I've found about them so far in either book is that they can be used as Staff, which doesn't actually set them apart at all.

Mr. Maltose rolls 2 for an Art, and a 4 against the Arts Table: "Yours is an industrial kingdom, famed for the quality of its craftspeople." Start with one {Blacksmith} (raises the Item Level of weapons and armor) and one {Guild} (allows the requisite-free selection of certain Skills) in Dungeoneering or Item Skills.

dereku rolls 7 for another Resource, and a 5 against the Resource Table: "The hidden fortune of a previous ruler was recently discovered in your kingdom." Start with an extra 1D6 MG in your budget. What's MG, you may be wondering? Well, that's a very good question. From context, all I can say is that it's the basic in-game measure of currency, but it doesn't seem to be actually defined anywhere in either of the core books or any of the errata published on the official website. Kind of a weird oversight, but not really a major thing. Anyway, dereku rolls a 6. So, 6 MG.

Ryuujin rolls 5 for a Custom, and a 4 against the Custom Table: "Many retired adventurers and soldiers have gathered in your kingdom." This increases the base value of your Kingdom's (Military) by 1.

The GM rolls 11 for a Bloodline, and a 4 against the Bloodline Table: "Your kingdom was once home to a brilliant alchemist, who created artificial humans to use as servants." This lets the PCs learn a Monster Skill from any Fetish-type Monster of a lower level. The lowest level Fetish Monster is Level 2, though, so this wouldn't come into relevance for a couple of games, at least. Hey, that blank space next to "Environment" on the Kingdom Sheet would be a good place to note this down! Still don't see why they couldn't have labeled it, though...

That's it for rolling in this chapter. The rest of the Kingdom Creation process is adding up numbers and filling in blanks:

Population: Start with 50 regular <Citizens>, and add any Monstrous Citizens and/or Prodigies obtained in the Environment rolls. JohnOfOrdo's six Horselizards brings the total Population to 56, which according to the chart, is enough to raise the Kingdom Level to 2! Huzzah! (You're probably wondering about those "Prodigies". Well, it'll be easier to explain them in the next chapter, so just bear with it for a while.)

National Power: As previously stated, the base value of each level starts at 1. Ryuujin's Customs roll brings the base value of (Military) up to 2, making for a total National Power of 5.

Geography: There's two parts to this one. First, the players have to set up the internal layout of their Kingdom. For that, they'll need a Map Sheet:


Incidentally, this same sheet is used by the GM to map out dungeons, so most of what's on here won't come up until we cover combat in a few chapters.

Like so. Firstly, every Kingdom starts out with one free Facility, a {Royal Palace}:


"If a Kingdom does not possess one a {Royal Palace} at the end of a game, that Kingdom is Destroyed." Also, make a Check against your (Quality of Life) to gain 1 <Vox Populi>, or fail it to lose 1 <Vox Populi>.

This Facility must be placed at B-2. This is inviolable. Any other Facilities gained from Environment rolls can be placed at will in any other unoccupied square. Next, assign one Passageway to each room. Passageways are just what they sound like - doors and corridors connecting one room to another. There's no restriction here, but any Facility without a clear path to the Palace is unusable, so be careful of that. Lastly, place an Entrance, another free Passageway leading out from the Kingdom and into the Million Dungeons beyond. This can be placed on the outer edge of any square except B-2; note also that no map can have more than two Entrances at any time. The end result should look something like this, only hopefully not quite so butts:



The second part of Geography is determining your Kingdom's place on the Terra Cognita. Just roll 2D6, declare X and Y, and mark it on the sheet. 5 and 4 puts the Kingdom down in the southeastern quadrant. If any other kingdoms had been generated by an Environment roll, their locations would be rolled for in the same way, but as it is, cat planet is alone in a vast expanse of unexplored territory - Terra Incognita, as the game terms it.

Vox Populi: Mentioned earlier, <Vox Populi> is one of two quantified forms of <Hope> in the game. <Hope>, in one form or the other, is spent to power many Skills, effects, and abilities, making it a major part of the gameplay. We'll get to the other form in the next chapter; for now, know just that <Vox Populi> starts at 10, and cannot go higher than [10 + Kingdom Level] at any time. Also, if the <Vox Populi> ever goes lower than the number of Landmakers in the Court, the Kingdom is destroyed.

Budget: The Kingdom's available funds. Unmodified, you start with 0 MG, but dereku's roll gives you a head-start of 6 MG. How this can be used is another subject that will have to wait a while.

Diplomacy: Again, no other kingdoms were generated by the Environment rolls, and the Court hasn't had the opportunity to discover any yet, so there's not much use for this step here. If there were, however, there'd have to be a 1D6 rolled to determine each one's Relationship with your Kingdom: 1, Allied; 2, Friendly; 3 or 4, Neutral; 5, Strained; 6: Hostile.

And that's it! You should now have a Kingdom Sheet that looks something like this, only hopefully less obviously thrown together in GIMP over the course of a song and a half:



Fuckin' finally! Next time: character creation! This calls for another round of audience participation! I totally undercounted the number of dice required for generating a Kingdom, so to be on the safe side this time, give me a total of 25 d6s each! Limit of five examples, first come first served, but at this rate, I won't be posting in this thread again until sometime next month, so hey, no rush!

GimmickMan
Dec 27, 2011



I am one of those rare types who have no interest in Sword & Sorcery at all but man, Japan is really trying to change that here.

goatface
Dec 5, 2007

I had a video of that when I was about 6.

I remember it being shit.




Grimey Drawer

Have some dice:

4, 4, 3, 3, 1, 4, 2, 2, 4, 3, 6, 6, 1, 4, 2, 5, 3, 5, 5, 3, 6, 2, 4, 5, 3

JohnOfOrdo3
Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid


Bitchtits McGee posted:


Fuckin' finally! Next time: character creation! This calls for another round of audience participation! I totally undercounted the number of dice required for generating a Kingdom, so to be on the safe side this time, give me a total of 25 d6s each! Limit of five examples, first come first served, but at this rate, I won't be posting in this thread again until sometime next month, so hey, no rush!

Our Horselizards shall bear the brave warriors of Kitty Planet to battle! drat I love this game, I'm adding it to the list of "Games that need to be translated to English ASAP"

As for dice...

5, 6, 4, 2, 2, 1, 3, 6, 1, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 5, 1, 1, 4, 6, 3, 4, 6, 5, 5, 5

Everything Counts
Oct 10, 2012

Don't "shhh!" me, you rich bastard!


I don't know if this has already been mentioned, but Meikyuu Kingdom is almost like a pen-and-paper version of the Wii game Final Fantasy: My Life As A King. I really wish there was an English version of this available.

Dice!
[2,1,2,4,1,6,6,1,6,5,5,1,5,4,3,5,1,4,6,6,5,4,6,4,2]

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

Step one to becoming a saint is 'die'. Only the most pious can become saints, with strong personalities and no sinful traits. They must die absolved of sin, have been faithful to the Church and have regularly attended Mass. Being martyred helps, as does being a holy virgin or being renowned for charity and good works. To get recognized by the Church as a saint also requires the saint to have performed at least two genuine, impressive miracles. If these conditions are met and the potential saint is widely venerated, with at least one major shrine, a few hundred followers and at least a few people Devoted to them, the Church may recognize them as a genuine minor saint. This won't happen until after an extensive series of petitions and full investigations, though, and may still be pretty hard to get.

Now then, Pilgrimages! Pilgrimages are a massive part of lay spirituality. You set out on a journey to a distant holy site, face ordeals and on arrival offer praise to God, requesting blessings in return for the journey. A pilgrimage may never be sullied by other business - it is its own reward and goal. Pilgrims band together on the road, generally armed only with sticks, and many die of disease or accident before they get there, or never get there for whatever reason. Some are even robbed, murdered or sold into slavery on the way. After all, pilgrims must have enough wealth on hand to reach their goal, or beg for alms on the way. That makes them tempting targets. Robbers are hardly the only danger, though: there are the demons who will want to prevent the pilgrims from reaching their pious goal with temptations and distractions. Local authorities occasionally try to protect the pilgrimage routes, and they do have hostelries where pigrlims are common guests. Monasteries and churches also provide hospitality, but even with all that, pilgrimage is very dangerous.

A pilgrimage functions something like a Mystery initiation - a successful one can grant you a Virtue, including supernatural powers associated with the Divine, remove a Flaw, reduce or remove negative personality traits, ask for miracles, meet the requirements of a penance or even help self-initiate into Holy Magic. You need a clear aim in undertaking a pilgrimage, and there's two types based on what you seek: minor and major. A minor pilgrimage doesn't generally take very long - perhaps a single season of travel, centering on events either on the road or at the pilgrimage site. A major pilgrimage is generally to the Holy Land, Rome or Santiago and takes quite a bit longer, generally with multiple seasons to travel and return, and involves a lot of risk. Grogs, incidentally, can fully participate in and gain the benefits of pilgrimages, which isn't usual for such minor characters.

The more difficult the thing you want is, the more danger you will face on the trip. You will have to overcome challenges set in your path by God - natural hazards, time, temptations, trials of faith, banditry, heretics, supernatural dangers, shipwreck, demons and more. Further, it is vital that you avoid mortal sin while on the pilgrimage and that you confess and receive absolution for any venal sins when you arrive at the destination. Those on pilgrimage have many chances to visit saintly shrines and relics, so it's a great way to improve Devotions. The Church also likes it when you go on crusade, 'taking the cross' and receiving a free indulgence of all outstanding penance in exchange for serving God in the crusade. In 1220, crusades include the Albigensian Crusade against the French Cathars, which lasts until 1229, the Fifth Crusade that launched in 1217 and is currently in Damietta in Egypt, which will end in 1221, the Northern Crusade against the Estonians, which ends in 1228, and the ongoing wars against the Iberian Muslims.

Then you have the mystics, those who devote their entire lives to pursuing love of God. They need not be hermits, spooky introverts or even monks or nuns. Some are ordinary people who have achieved mystical states by dedication yet still live in the world. Mystics are valued by the Church, but claims to direct revelation by the Divine can also be signs of heresy or error, such as when mystics criticize the Church itself. Thus, mystics are also viewed with some suspicion, and tend to try to get them to join monasteries or convents where they can be supervised or kept from teaching and preaching. Conflict is frequent, but not inevitable, and many mystics are devoted to the Church. Mystical understanding is hard for others to grasp, being ineffable and noetic. Many mystics have True Faith or belong to Holy Traditions and may call on miracles. Individual paths, however, are varied and personal, with no set orders of experiences that will be encountered. In some sense, it is an experimental process, and power is not the goal - union with and love of God is. Power, if it is granted, is a side effect.

However, we can classify two main strands of mystical thought. First is contemplative mysticism, which deals with the mystic's personal relationship and identification with Christ, realizing their frailty and weakness compared to the Godhead. They strive to serve and identify with Christ, and through a slow process called theosis, emulation of Christ allows them to become more and more Divine. And yet, while they yearn for union with God, they accept that they are lesser, not identical to Christ or Godhead, and that the road to God is mediated by the incarnation and sacrifice of God, Jesus Christ. The danger of extreme contemplative mysticism is to lose sight of the difference between the self and God, believing the self to not just be approaching Godhead, but to become God. Rejecting the notion that you are a sinner and mortal being and believing that by Divine grace you can no longer sin is a terrible sin in and of itself, and it encourages the belief that all you do is lawful and good, which corrupts you to the Infernal by your false pride.

The second type of mysticism is monistic mysticism, and central to it is the loss of self and oneness with all things. Just as all creation is from the mind of God, so identifying with the mind of God breaks down the apparent differences between things, as all are just aspects of a greater Divine reality. This tradition can easily become panentheistic, believing that God permeates all aspects of creation from the lowest worm to every fiber of the body. The visionary experiences of the monistic tradition often refer to the light of God in nature as seen by a glowing nimbus surrounding all things. The danger of this path is to find God even in that of the Infernal, rejecting the idea of the Fall and corruption of this broken world Some monistic mystics even reject the division of the universe into realms, stating that all are aspects of God misperceived by people, angels and demons.

Mysticism is inherently dangerous, as insights outside the authority of the Church can lead to radically false (by Church doctrine) ideas and conclusions, and even to reject all spiritual authority in favor of personal experience. Such people can become very egotistical, but also very charismatic, and often form heretical groups that are unable to understand their own error, leading others into heresy. Such cults can be very, very dangerous, and may attract demonic support if the leader gives in to pride and refuses to repent or return to proper spiritual authority. Note that the two paths are essentially incompatible; one refines the self in imitation of Christ, while the other negates the self in the experience of universal oneness. Perhaps only Francis of Assisi is capable of reconciling the paradox and embracing both.

Contemplative Mysticism essentially is another form of Mystery initiation for Divine characters, requiring a pious nature and lack of sinful traits. You must be associated with the Divine realm in some way, most likely by possession of True Faith, Divine supernatural powers or Divine Warping. Via questing and dedicating time to reaching the Gospel, practicing personal devotion, serving the poor and so on, the mystic follows a Spiritual Path that leads to a Revelation - generally a new Virtue or holy power.

Monistic Mysticism is based around concentration, and generally requires either True Faith or Visions as well as piety. Many monistic mystics possess the Gift, for reasons no one understands, and as with contemplative mystics, they must be associated with the Divine realm. Divine Warping becomes especially able to affect the monistic mystic, and unlike contemplative mystics, they do not go questing or serving the world; they learn their powers by experiencing Divine Warping. It is extremely risky, but it also makes their abilities that much quicker to advance. By undergoing these extreme risks and Warpings, they are granted Divine understanding.

Then you've got hermits, people who renounce the world and live alone, observing the liturgical hours as monks do. Some are mystics, some are not, but hermits are common features of the European landscape. They can be wandering beggars or workers, and not all hermits are extreme recluses. Many attend a local church, for example. What marks the hermit is the decision to live alone, embrace celibacy and keep the liturgical hours outside any formal monastic context. They are unregulated and unsupervised, and so potentially dangerous, especially when they preach. They are popularly seen as holy or even miracle workers, so people seek them out when they need advice or miracles. Some hermits are fashionable to seek out, and so constantly pestered, much to their annoyance. The most extreme hermits are anchorites, who are sealed alone into a small cell called an anchorhold, built against the wall of a church. The entrance is bricked up, and food is passed in (and waste passed out) via a small window facing away from the church. A second window into the church allows the anchorite to attend Mass and receive communion.

Next time: Being a priest.

SavageMessiah
Jan 28, 2009

Emotionally drained and spookified



Toilet Rascal

Please tell me that some wonderful person is producing a translated version of this

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Let's make some dudes!

http://orokos.com/roll/119140: 1 2 3 5 2 5 5 1 2 4 1 1 4 6 4 1 6 1 2 1 1 3 1 5 5

Mr. Maltose fucked around with this message at 15:43 on Jun 9, 2013

dereku
Oct 23, 2010

Open up your senses


Here we go


25d6 → [1,3,6,5,5,4,5,6,1,6,4,5,5,6,5,1,5,3,1,4,2,4,1,3,1] = (92)

http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/4081683/

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Kevin Long has been working for Raven Software as a concept artist since at least 2002. He never told me why he left Palladium except a comment that Siembada is a complete and total douche.

I remember seeing a piece of Quake... must have been IV concept art by him once. Looked like a Strogg Gladiator stole a Glitter Boy's shoes.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Kevin Long has been working for Raven Software as a concept artist since at least 2002. He never told me why he left Palladium except a comment that Siembada is a complete and total douche.

I know he's done some pick-up work for Shadowrun as well.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 4: Africa: Part Four: "However, those unprotected will have a horrifying experience that causes 3D4 x 10 points of S.D.C./hit point damage per melee round, plus the character must roll on the disease table listed in this section and suffers terrible mental trauma from being engulfed by bugs (they crawl into every orifice and cover every inch of his or her body)."

Pestilence


Skull count +2. Skull total: 64

Next up is Pestilence, who is really just a bug-covered skeleton. He's "clever" but has even less of a personality than Death or Famine, so really not much to talk about otherwise. Bugs!
  • The numbers: 7,123 M.D.C., 1500 P.P.E., I.S.P. 250, heals about 2 M.D. a second, 10th level psychic and wizard, same vulnerabilities blah blah, and recovers 1-2 M.D.C. a second. Horror factor is 17, 70% chance of evoking fear.
  • He can control 500,000 insects. Scary, right? Well, not exactly. See, this book was written without researching the sheer mind mangling scale insects work on. There can easily be 10,000 to 1 million ants in an anthill. The average beehive might have 100,000 bees or so. A locust swarm has about 40 - 80 million locusts per kilometer and can range into the billions of locusts.

    What I'm trying to say is that basic fact-checking can keep you from making an pestilence-themed, apocalyptic worldbreaker villain who can't even control your average locust swarm.
  • He has the psychic powers of pyrokinesis and super telekinesis. You know, in keeping with his bug theme.
  • Punching pestilence gets you covered in bugs, but that only affects you if you're S.D.C. and not wearing armor (i.e. have made some really, really bad character choices). It takes 30 seconds to "brush 98% of the bugs away." No idea what the 2% of the remaining bugs left are doing, but presumably they're ineffectual or have gotten lost inside an orfice or something.

    If you don't brush them off, you get severe penalities. Even characters in armor get a general -1 to combat rolls on account of goggles covered with BEES.
  • Also he can swallow people into his body. There is no save for this, he can just automatically do it. Yes, even dragons. Those that aren't protected by environmental armor take S.D.C. damage and have to roll versus insanity (17 or higher!) or get a phobia of bugs or small spaces or darkness or whatever. Oh, and:

    Rifts® Africa posted:

    ... the character must roll on the disease table listed in this section and suffers terrible mental trauma from being engulfed by bugs (they crawl into every orifice and cover every inch of his or her body).

    Yes. Every. Orifice.
  • Pesty-poo- yes, we're intimate after that last power description - can summon insect swarms. There's blinding swarms, which make you lose combat actions and all combat bonuses and slow you to a crawl. Also they can damage vehicles by clogging up tailpipes, vents, crawling into engines, but there are no rules for that. There's biting swarms! These are like biting swarms, but do S.D.C. damage. However, you aren't as blinded by them (exact same combat penalities, tho). Deadly swarms! These do more damage, but you can save vs. poison to reduce the damage. Devouring swarms! These eat up plants. Disease swarms! These give better visibility than normal diseases but give diseases like pox, fever, sickness, plague, or "a terrible cold".
  • He can also inflict the above diseases by touch or also infest food with insects.

    Rifts® Africa posted:

    If characters act quick they can kill the pestilence and save 1d6 x 10% of the food by boiling, deep frying, smoking, microwaving, and similar measure to kill the bugs and any possible disease.

    Pestilence: Ha ha, I have infested your delicious PB&J with disgusting vermin!

    Operator Joe: We can't be stopped - won't be stopped by the likes of you! Not while we have Wilk's Portable Microwave! With M.D.C. grillin' tray!

    Pestilence: NOOOOOO! I am undone!

    Operator Joe: Mmm, PB&J piping hot out of microwave, just like my radiation-addled mom used to make! The dead grubs just add extra zest!

  • Oh, and in the middle of the power section, we get:

    Rifts® Africa posted:

    Note: See Villains Unlimited, pages 21-26, for the power of insect and arachnid control along with stats on a dozen different insects. Also see pages 176-177 for the super-villain named Pestilence. This "super" source book also has a bunch of other great villains, powers and ideas.

    Man, is that why my Rifts® gamemaster started adding a bunch of supervillainous bank robbers to my game? I was wondering...

    Also, Rifts® nerds may want to note in Villains Unlimited there's an evil chiang-ku dragon (yeah, those guys again), and a supervillain that uses a prototype version of the Glitter Boy armor. Later on Palladium Books® would deny any connection between the two worlds. Just bullshit to sell books, I guess.
  • gently caress, we're not even done with bug-boy here.
  • He has a GREATEST rune staff too. The beetle on top can unfold to release M.D.C. magic beetles that grow to 5' in length and can attack people. It can also shoot beams (that do extra damage to Millennium Trees), and mostly just like the other dumb staves, he can teleport it back to himself, etc.
  • He rides a giant beetle named "Raid", oh, ho, Kevin you are killing me. And not with laughter. Unlike the other netherbeasts, it is not actually a netherbeast, but a big bug. It's pretty much like the other ones only it can fly.

Skull count +2. Skull total: 66

War


Skull Count +5. Skull tot- aaaah his crotch piece looks like a penis CANNOT UNSEE

War is a little different in that he's a general and can use his leadership skills to gather up mobs and lead them to... well, war. Other than that, he murders anything and everything, and has the serious dearth of personality that the horsemen generally seem to suffer from. Also he can merge with weapons in a manner that seems heavily inspired by the Boomer robots from Bubblegum Crisis.


Yes. Like this.

  • The numbers: 8,482 M.D.C., 2000 P.P.E., I.S.P. 350, heals about 30-40 M.D. a second, 10th level psychic and wizard, same vulnerabilities blah blah. Horror factor is 17, 80% chance of evoking fear or hate.
  • He knows how to repair a car perfectly at 98%. Just in case that's important. He's also a expert programmer at 98%! He also is a fantastic mathmatician at 98%! "War has no knowledge of medicine, science, or book knowledge." I guess he comes from the oratory tradition of programming and calculus.
  • He has a section on favorite weapons that notes his rune mace is his favorite weapon but "he likes all weapons". Wow. What a waste of words.
  • It repeatedly mentions his armor is not really armor at all but is instead a part of him. Why keep calling it armor, then...?
  • It notes that gods generally have more M.D.C. than the horsemen, but that they're more dangerous because they regenerate faster (we'll see if that's true in just a bit).
  • Powers! War can meld with any weapon and wield it and magically give it ammo or power. Yes, this means he can just use a boom gun, though presumably it knocks him on his rear. He can also gooify and merge with vehicles and take them over, but they have to be made for war and can't have a pilot in them. I guess he's too polite to jack vehicles, or something.
  • He can also change size from 6' to 24'. This has no game effect. And he has psionic telemechanics so he can can repair just about anything.
  • His magic mace is - yes, a greatest rune weapon. It can stretch its chain up to 100', so he can swing it far and near. He can also throw it up to 1000' and it magically returns. It can also entangle foes but this is not detailed. It's a soul drinker and he can always have it return etc.
  • He also has lasers on his shoulders (no, really), can use magic chains he keeps on his netherbeast to whip folks or entangle them (this time there are rules, 70% chance), use the rings attached to the chains to bean people with, he can throw the skulls on the netherbeast to sock people as well, or use them as smoke grenades (that spread a 500' radius of smoke, but he can only throw them 200'), he can throw the crossbones with the skull like a frisbee, that teleports back to his hand after striking. He also has a bunch of other weapons (maces, spears, and a "runka" polearm, Gygax would be proud of his specificity).
  • He has the biggest and toughest netherbeast (name of "Carnage"), and it also has armor on it for 2500 (!) M.D.C., and it has plasma cannons he can fire when he's riding it.
  • For all the details on his weapons, they're pointless. Against robots and vehicles, he'll want to use stolen rail guns and missile launchers. Against living foes, the soul drinker rune mace. Anything else is pretty much wasting his time.

Skull count +4. Skull total: 75

A lot of Rifts® concepts are wonderfully toyetic, but War is just pure monster toy. Skulls that detatch so he can throw them at foes? Throwing crossbonerangs? Stretchy mace? I can just see the blister packaging now.

The Armageddon Creature

If the four horsefolk join up, they become the armageddon creature. It's said to be a humanoid that's 60' tall, has 8-12 arms, it has War's body armor, death's head, a giant mace with a flaming skull attached, and Famine and Pestilence's staves join together to become one. Imagine this in the theater of the mind, since there's no picture, bizarrely. This may be Rifts® shining moment as pure metal, only A) you're not supposed to let things get this bad and B) there's no art for it.

If there's only two or three to join up, its powers are reduced by half or to three-quarters accordingly. Once they join up, though, they magically start world wars through magicky magic, and then natural disasters will sweep over everything as it all goes Day After Tomorrow. With a decade everybody sentient will be dead and a few years later everything will be dead. If there's three monsters joining up, that time is doubled and for only two horsefolk, it's ten times as long.
  • Numbers! Almost all of its stats are at 30, except Physical Beauty (2) and Physical Strength (80) and Speed (293, that's 200mph that it can jog). It has 36,000 M.D.C. (less than all of them added together, oddly enough), 20,000 P.P.E., 5000 I.S.P., a horror factor of 19 and 20 attacks a round. 20. gently caress, with that many attacks it'll kill the players out of sheer boredom waiting for its turn to resolve. It also regenerates 42 M.D.C. a second, or about 642 M.D.C. a turn.
  • It has the levels of a "20th level warrior and line walker". "Warrior" is not a class in Rifts®, nor is 20 a defined level. It's literal nonsense.
  • It gets all the powers, magic, psionics, and natural abilities of its component horsepeople.
  • Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

    Alliances & allies: None! Out to destroy everybody!
And that's all you get. No origin, no background, no details, just boring killamajigs that are out to murder everybody because that's what it says in the script. They are boss monsters that will take ages for your average party to kill - and take not heroism to defeat, but sheer force of numbers and dice. They have no weaknesses other than the order you're supposed to kill them in (Famine, Pestilence, War, Death) and the fact that Millennium Tree weapons do solid damage against them (ten times normal, or about that of a Boom Gun, so you can just use a bunch of rail guns instead). Of course, Pestilence can specifically destroy Millennium Tree components and does extra damage against them...

They are literally sketches with (bad) statblocks thrown on. Only Death has a really interesting element - the fact he has to troll people into attacking him - but otherwise these are even duller than your usual Rifts® monster that just considers humanity an interdimensional delicacy. This is the big culmination of the Rifts® metaplot up to this point, following ARCHIE, the Mechanoids, and the introduction of Mrr'lyn. And - for all of their flaws - all of the villains above are more interesting than the Four Horsemen, who may as well be 8-bit videogame bosses.

Next: The evil bus has its next tour through the scenic Pantheon of Taut. Evil wears a puppy head!

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 18:51 on Jun 9, 2013

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

The diocese is essentially the most important division of land the Church has. The Pope, as leader of the Church, is Bishop of the Diocese of Rome. There 800 other dioceses out there, split by provinces ruled by archbishops, then split into archdeaconries, then subdivided by deaneries and, finally, parishes. In Italy alone there 200 dioceses, though most are no larger than a parish is elsewhere. In England, there are 21 dioceses, 30 in Germany, 79 in France and 13 in Scandinavia. Practically every covenant is in a parish and diocese, an unavoidable fact, and so every covenant must, in some way, interact with the clergy.

Rules are provided to play senior clergy, such as archbishops, bishops, abbots, abbesses or so on. Archbishops are about as high as you get in chargen, and they are the lowest level of priest to receive the Commanding Aura. Which, yes, they do get. All senior clergy have reputations, either good or bad. The book also provides new seasonal activities suitable to clergy or Christians. Any Christian with access to a chapel or church may spend a free season in extreme worship - above and beyond the normal worship of God. Doing so grants experience based on the power of the Divine aura of the church, but this experience can only be put towards Church Lore, Concentration, Musicor any supernatural power dedicated to the Divine. (Most are not.) Any Christian may also spend a season performing good works, and for clergy this season need not be a free one. This includes giving alms, ministering the sick or building chapels. This provides a tiny bit of experience, but also a Faith point. The last can only be done by an ordained priest leading a congregation: care of souls. They spend a season (which can be one of their non-free ones) preaching. For the rest of the year, all willing members of the congregation get a +1 bonus to things that are aligned with the theme of the preaching. Themes can be Loyalty, Calmness, Kindness, Bravery, Wisdom, Strength or Justice. Very handy.

Now, let's talk bishops. The bishop is the elected head of the diocese, and the chief priest, judge and ruler of the Church there. The election is confirmed and the bishop ordained either by an archbishop or the Pope. The symbols of office are a ring and a crosier. The creation, dividing or suppressing of a diocense is sole right of the pope. Beneath them is the cathdral chapter, the legal corporation made of the canons of the cathedral (that is, the priests), and the chapter is very influential in diocese governance. You want to petition the bishop, you go through them. The bishop is elected by simple majority in a secret ballot of the cathedral canons. They must be elected within three months of the predecessor's death, and there is no vote by proxy. Usually a canon is elected, but candidates do not need to belong to the diocese, and sometimes the pope will suggest a candidate. Technically, the candidate doesn't even need to be an ordained clergyman, but will be ordained as required on election.

The Third Lateran Council of 1179 has ruled that a bishop candidate must be at least thirty, born of lawful wedlock and be worthy (as evidenced by life and learning). Essentially, that means 'can read Latin' and 'usually has a positive reputation with the Church.' An illiterate bastard with a bad reputation can be elected, but it gives grounds for challenge of the election. Elections can be challenged by appeal to the pope. Apart from education, birth and reputation, grounds for appeal include absence of electors, people voting who weren't entitled to, an election too soon or too long after the death of the last bishop or candidates who committed simony. Appeals can take years to work through, and if the pope overturns an election, he also appoints the new bishop, who needn't be one of the original candidates. In the past, there has been considerable conflict over the appointment of bishops by lay lords, and some powerful nobles, especially in the Holy Roman Empire, may still attempt to do so. Such appointments are usually overturned by the papacy.

In some cases, a diocese is declared in partibus infidelum, overrun by infidel forces. A bishop whose diocese is in partibus infidelum has the same powers as a normal bishop, but need not live there. What functions can continue depends on what the rulers of the diocese are willing to allow. In many German and Spanish dioceses, on the other hand, as well as a handful of French and British ones, the bishop is also a baron. Controversy during the election of such bishops is common, and the bishop is also a member of the feudal court, and must choose sides in disputes between lord and pope. Jurisdiction tends to be complex, especially if the borders of barony and diocese do not quite coincide. Bishop-barons often have knights and may well be embroiled in warfare, which is against canon law.

The Pope, meanwhile, is the head of the Church and the bishop of Rome. The pope is elected by two-thirds majority of the cardinals, who usually select a cardinal. The current pope is an old Roman man born Cencio Savelli, and before he was pope he served as canon, camerlengo, chancellor, cardinal-deacon and cardinal-priest. He was the tutor of current Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, and he was elected as pope in 1216 as Honorius III. Like the last pope, Innocent III, Honorius is determined to reclaim the Holy Land and reform the Church. However, history tells us that most of his papacy will be consumed by intrigue with Frederick II, whom he will crown this year. Frederick's constant delay of Crusade is the main reason little progress has been made. Honorius will also deal with rebellions among the Papal States of Italy, and even Rome will rebel against him, forcing him to flee from 1219 to 1220 and again from 1225 to 1226. Despite this, he usually proceeds via diplomacy rather than war. According to history, Honorius dies in 1227 on March 18. His successor is cardinal-bishop Ugolino, who takes the name Gregory IX. He is a trusted ally of Honorius and his diplomatic skill as a papal legate is famous.

The cardinals are the closest advisors to the pope, helping him perform his duties in Rome and usually acting as legates elsewhere. They are appointed by the pope and in 1220 can be from anywhere in Europe. There can be up to 53 cardinals at a time, but the number fluctuates throughout the century and can get as low as 10. Cardinals are usually considered to outrank bishops and archbishops, but their influence varies. There are three ranks of cardinal: the seven cardinal-bishops, who rule small towns near Rome (specifically: Ostia, Porto, Silva Candida, Albano, Sabina, Tusculum and Palestrina). The pope is ordained by a cardinal-bishop. Then there are up to 28 cardinal-priests and 18 cardinal-deacons.

Skipping over the exact workings of the curia (the papal court) and the chancery (the pope's mailroom)...let's talk about papal legates. These are the representatives of the pope, and while on papal business, they bear the Commanding Aura. But only on business. There are three or four grades. Top grade is the legati a legare who are usually selected from the cardinals, and represent the pope on long-reaching and important missions. They have the widest powers, including the power to make decisions that bind the pope, and there are never more than a handful at once. Below them are the legati missi or nuncio, generally priests and deacons capellani, the college of Roman priests. (At present, it's 70 people.) They can, in theory, be clergy from anywhere, though. They are given a particular mission and have only the powers needed for that mission - investigating a specific heresy, reprimanding a bishop, whatever. There may be dozens at any time, and those who do well are occasionally rewarded by being raised to cardinal. Then there's the legati nati, a title held by some archbishops. Prior to this century, they had geographical territories encompassing several archdioceses, and could consecrate archbishops. By 1220, the title has no real power associated with it, though some archbishops use it anyway.

Next time: Archbishops.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Alien Rope Burn posted:

And that's all you get. No origin, no background, no details, just boring killamajigs that are out to murder everybody because that's what it says in the script. They are boss monsters that will take ages for your average party to kill - and take not heroism to defeat, but sheer force of numbers and dice. They have no weaknesses other than the order you're supposed to kill them in (Famine, Pestilence, War, Death) and the fact that Millennium Tree weapons do solid damage against them (ten times normal, or about that of a Boom Gun, so you can just use a bunch of rail guns instead). Of course, Pestilence can specifically destroy Millennium Tree components and does extra damage against them...

Of course, there's a reason why the Four Horsemen hang out in Africa and don't try to gently caress around with the Coalition or Triax...

Coalition Navy posted:

BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missile - CSN Version

Mega-Damage: Everything within a 1000 foot (305 m) radius of ground zero suffers 3D4x100 M.D. (so it is likely that gods and alien intelligences would survive the blast — although wounded terribly)! Damage is 1D4x100 M.D. to everything in a 3 mile (4.8 km) radius immediately surrounding ground zero.

And that's just the intermediate range cruise missiles, with a 150 kiloton yield. You can kill an Apocalypse Horseman with about 10 of them. A full-on megaton would be something like 2D4x1000 at ground zero, which could single shot them on a lucky roll.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011
I AM A BIG FAT STUPID FUCKER WHO SHOULD STAY THE FUCK OUT OF CSPAM

There's a reason in most interpretations War is either an ancient general in powerful looking armor with like, one imposing weapon, that or if they want to make him modern they just put him in a suit and tie like a PMC head or something.

That War looks so goofy I can't imagine him scaring anyone.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

The Archbishop or metropolitan is a bishop with responsibility for up to a dozen dioceses, known as a province. Most dioceses are part of a province, though there are a few that answer directly to Rome, know as fila specialis. They include most of Scotland, Leon, Cartagena and Burgos in Spain, Bamberg in Germany and Pavia and Ferrara in northern Italy. Those within the province of Rome also answer to Rome. The archbishop is ordained by the pope or a papal legate, and receives from them the symbol of office, the pallium. The pope may raise any diocese to an archdiocese, and generally the archbishop's successors will also be archbishops. The pope may also present the pallium to a simple bishop to recognize great service to the Church, in which case the rank of archbishop does not carry on to successors and the archbishop has no jurisdiction over a province, though they do still count for the Commanding Aura.

The Church has also appointed patriarchs at Jerusalem, Antioch and Constantinople, who serve either alone or in parallel to a Greek patriarch. The rank is rare in the West but is between archbishop and pope, so many ambitious archbishops seek it. According to history, the archdioceses of Mainz, Cologne, Trier, Magdeburg and Salzburg in Germany, Saint Andrew's in Scotland, Armagh in Ireland, Lund in Scandinavia, Gniezno in Poland, Toledo and Tarragona in Spain and Estzergom in Hungary will all be made primacies, the domain of a Patriarch. However, ultimately, the effort to create a permanent Western rank superior to archbishop will eventually fail.

The Archdeacon is the bishop's deputy and has responsibility for a subset of the diocese, the archdeaconry. They are usually appointed by the bishop, but in some dioceses they are elected by the church canons. Originally, the archdeacon was purely advisory, but they have been gaining power over the centuries. In 1220, they are the chief judge of canon law in the archdeaconry and travel regularly among parishes. Often, they retain a portion of court fines and have the right of visitation, so have a large influence over parish administration. In some dioceses, they may have more power than the bishop. The archdeacon must be ordained as a deacon; a priest could take the office, but it is rare. There's a lot of regional variation over how many archdeacons a diocese has. In Canterbury, there's one. In Hildesheim, there are 40. They may be up to a few hundred parishes, or as little as a few dozen.

The Dean comes in two types. A rural dean s the head of a group of up to two dozen rural parishes called a deanery. The other kind heads a chapter of canons and is the leader of the priests of a large urban church. The rural dean's church is generally the oldest and largest in the deanery, and office is unusual in that it is a subdivision of the archdeaconry but also represents the bishop directly. This means that deans can be forced to choose sides between archdeacon and bishop. The dean convokes meetings of the deanery's clergy several times a year and has visitation rights over all subordinate parishes. Some rural deans use the title 'archpriest' which is an earlier, archaic title.

About two percent of the population are clerics - that is, clergy. They're not evenly distributed, however. In a poor rural distract you'll have a curate and parish clerk, while a town might have several parishes, each with a chapter of canons. Since the 1000s, the Church has emphasized the clerics as a seperate caste, though not all are as pure and pious as the Church claims. They are born commoners, after all - well, mostly - and share in the faults of the laity. There are two main types of cleric: those in minor orders and those in major orders. The minor orders are doorkeeper, lector, exorcist and acoylte. The major orders are sub-deacon, deacon, priest and bishop. You progress up from the bottom, though it is not expected that all clergy will pass through the entire sequence. In 1220, the ranks of subdeacon, deacon and acolyte are seen as lifelong offices, and a deacon who lives to old age without ever becoming a priest has failed nothing and no one.

Each step requires ordination, a season-long activity requiring study and oral examination. There is no requirement for clergy to be literate. Normally, you must either travel to the examination or wait for a visitation to your parish. It is possible to fail the examination, so best study. If you pass, the bishop ordains you, and generally several others at once. Those who pass gain a temporary Faith point. Those who pass with honors receive a good reputation. Those who only barely pass get a poor one. Failing is hard but possible, and those who fail are not ordained but can appeal or try again later. Usually you only get ordained one grade at a time, but sometimes you get accelerated, generally if a low-ranking priest or layman is elected bishop. Even if you go through several grades at once, you only get the one Faith point.

The Minor Orders are tonsured and wear clerical robes. They are subject to canon law, and they can marry, but must marry a virgin. The doorkeeper no longer guards the doors of the church, and the position is usually held by young boys being trained further, generally in the early teens. When ordained as doorkeeper, they are blessed by the bishop and get a pair of keys. They usually are engaged in study at a cathedral school. Above them are the lectors, who receive a codex of lessons and must teach them to the congregation. The role has generally been usurped by higher orders and is now ceremonial, not even requiring literacy. Lectors tend to be only a few years older than doorkeepers and continue to be educated. Above them are exorcists, who receive a scroll of exorcism rites. In the early days, they looked after the possessed and conducted exorcisms of adults preparing for baptism. These days, adult baptism is rare, and there is less need for pre-baptismal exorcism. Exorcists tend to be ordained in the late teens and some progress no further. Above them are acolytes, whose symbol is the extinguished candlestick and empty vessel. Their duty is to keep the candles lit and provide the wine and water for the altar. Acolytes tend to be around 20. Many serve as parish clerks or other minor duties such as scribes or distributors of alms. Most clerics met outside churches will be acolytes on minor missions.

The Major Orders likewise are tonsured and wear robes. They are subject to canon law, and celibate. The sub-deacon is presented with the paten on ordination, the plate on which the bread is placed in Mass, and a chalice, both by the bishop. The archdeacon gives a pitcher and basin. Sub-deacons act as clerks and canons, as well as the retinue of senior clergy. The deacon wears the stole over the left shoulder and may serve as a clerk or canon. The archdeacon is always a deacon, as are many offices in the chapter of canons or cathedral administration. They are also in the retinue of senior clergy. Priests are ordained by laying on hands from the bishop. All bishops were once priests, and the chain of hands can be traced all the way back to Jesus and the disciples. Priests must be freeborn, sound of mind and body, legitimate, educated sufficiently for the office and at least 25. Anyone who doesn't qualify must have special dispensation from the bishop or pope, though dispensation is readily granted to bastards, the underaged, the crippled and those with poor eyesight. Even bastard sons of priests can get dispensation, though they may not be a member of the same chapter as their father. A bishop cannot ordain a priest who lacks any financial support, however, which means a priest can only be ordained if there is a benifice in most cases, or if a position opens up, though priests of noble birth may have independent means. Priests always wear clerical dress, even on journeys, and the most important part is the stole.

Next time: Canon law.

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Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

Canon law is based on papal bulls and decrees, though there is minor regional difference in interpretation. We'll skip over the exact mechanics of the court, but suffice to say that clergy are not subject to secular law, and those found guilty in secular court are given to archbishops to try a second time. Punishments range from excommunication at the top, saved for repeat offenders of serious crimes (though a bishop may excommunicate anyone in the diocese) to suspension or fines. An excommunicated person cannot receive any benefits from the sacraments save penance, and cannot be buried on consecrated ground. Further, they are not protected from secular law. Excommunication is ended by confession, repentance and penance. Most crimes, however, are punished by public penance, imprisonment in a monastery or nunnery (especially common for wealthy women convicted of sexual offenses or clergy convicted in secular court), fines for failed penance or suspension of the benefice temporarily. Monasteries and nunneries, it should be noted, are not very secure and are quite easy to escape in most cases.

One punishment, though, is leveled by God directly: irregularity, which automatically and only affects those clergy who commit grossly immoral crimes, generally the shedding of blood. Irregular characters cannot spend Faith points. That's it. It doesn't require a trial or even that anyone knows the offense occurred, for God inflicts it. It is lifted solely by confession.

Crimes include the shedding of blood, clarified by the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 to mean that clerics cannot decree or pronounce a sentence involving the shedding of blood, carry out or be present for a punishment that sheds blood, write or dictate letters that require punishments involving the shedding of blood, command mercenaries or crossbowmen or other men of blood, or be involved in any trials by ordeal. Also, of course, no violence. Major order clergy are also forbidden to practice chirurgy. Marriage between close relatives and bigamy along with sexual crimes such as prostitution or giving birth within the first nine months of marriage are canon crimes, generally forcing men to support bastard children as penance. Contraception is also a canon crime, but hard to discover; technically speaking, the longevity ritual counts because it sterilizes a magus. It is forbidden for anyone to spill blood in the sanctuary of a church, churchyard or cemetary, too. Sanctuary is granted for up to 40 days, after which a fugitive must surrender to lay authority. In some dioceses, chapels also get considered sanctuary.

Other crimes include simony (the selling and buying of sacred things), usury, poor upkeep of the church, failure to attend Church festivals, failure to tithe properly, and as of 1215 slander. (The intention is to prevent brawls over matters of 'honor'.) As yet, no slander case has been brought to a canon court. Rarely, sorcery and witchcraft are prosecuted, though most canon courts are ambivalent on whether or not it's even a crime to perform minor sorcery. (Major sorcery is generally tried in secular courts.) Canon courts also handle the enforcement of wills and will accept wills registered in advance. Most people don't do that, however, for they believe writing a will invites death.

Skipping over the physical makeup of the parish and church, just be aware that there are church design rules available, similar to covenant design. An urban church will usually have several clerics who all live together in common, known as the chapter of canons. They live like monks in most places, but with the added responsibility of caring for the congregation. Some follow the Rule of Saint Augustine and are known as Augustinian canons. Others are more lax and allow the canons to eat meat, wear linen or even own private property. There are also rules provided for petitioning Church officials for various things, and you can improve the chances of being listened to by, say, giving donations, gaining support by priests, demonstrating visions or miracles or having a good reputation with the Church. A skilled scribe to write the petition helps, too.

Now, onward to monastics! The majority of monks in western Europe follow the Rule of Saint Benedict, and it is assumed in Ars Magica canon that the Benedictine order is neither wholly corrupt or entirely filled with holy monks. Rather, it is a mix of good and bad. Those who wish to join a Benedictine monastery or nunnery are actively discouraged and treated harshly for four to five days on arrival, to ensure they are truly committed. They are then made novices, and their clothes are kept and put in storage in case they are expelled before taking vows. Even a priest or noble must undergo this process, regardless of any rank. Monks who seek admission are treated as guests and may join so long as their previous abbot gives written permission and the new abbot consents. In the past, children could be admitted as oblates, educated and raised in the monastery and given the chance to become monks on adulthood, if suitable. This process is now seen as highly questionable and was outlawed in 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council, though some monasteries still practice it. No girl of six years of age or less is to be admitted to a nunnery, since she must be able to learn to read, write and obey rules, and the nunneries must not be used as nurseries or schools to raise girls.



Monks are sworn to three vows on formal admission, but those who apply must spend one year as a novice or junior monk before swearing them, and may choose to leave at any time during this probation, during which they are not considered a full community member. Many do so, leaving on good terms. The three vows are for chastity, poverty and obedience, common to nearly all religious. The vow of obedience involves following the Rule of Saint Benedict or a similar rule and the will of the abbot without question, subjecting oneself to the discipline of the community. The vow of humility and/or poverty is a central part of religious life, and erring in it requires penitence via laying flat on the floor before the entire convent, arms spread in a cross, and confessing. Poverty includes renouncing all inheritance and giving one's worldly goods to the house. Everything the religious use, even the habit, is owned by the house, and personal possessions are banned. The vow of chastity involves celibacy, no relations with the opposite sex and the breaking of relationships with friends and family, discarding the old life completely. This doesn't forbid family visits or correspondence, but they are subject to the abbot's approval. A monk, on taking vows, is tonsured. Nuns have their hair cut short.

The Rule of Saint Benedict lays out the regulations of monastic life, as do other rules; the Benedictine is just the most famous. It may seem severe, but it is attractive to many as an escape from uncertainty, starvation and instability. Monks are actually often quite happy, though there are exceptions. The daily routine is marked by bells, which summon monks to devotion and inform them of work and meal times. Every day save Sunday is a day of labor of some kind, and monks are very busy people. On Sunday, however, they do not work on manual labor, just reading and study. Monks and nuns must obey superiors unquestioningly and must be respectful to each other. None may strike, insult or belittle another, and many practice silence for long periods. Even when speaking, jokes, gossip and idle banter are forbidden. Silence is used to teach respect with speech. When speech is forbidden, monks communicate via hand sign. Monks may not speak to outsiders, save to offer them blessing when spoken to and to remind them of the rule. Younger monks are called Monk <name> by elders, while they refer to their elders as Elder <name>, as reckoned by the time since joining the monastery, not age. If given an impossible task, a monk may meekly explain why it cannot be done, but must attempt it anyway if the abbot insists. No monk may question the abbot's reasons for this or any other matter. Pride is a deadly snare, after all. One in ten monks is made dean, responsible for keeping good order among the brethren, and will speak to them if their behavior is lacking, or report them if needed. It is sinful not to reprove a brother seen to be in error, after all. If a monk continues in error, the abbot speaks to them privately, then publically remonstrates them, then punishes them, depending on when they stop. (Or if.) The most common punishment is exclusion from communal meals - a severe penalty, for meals are social occasions. A nun excluded from the community must also live where the abbess directs, with one other nun, until they repent and receive forgiveness. Graver or further offenses may be punished by being totally forbidden to speak or be spoken to, or communicate in any way with other monks and/or nuns. If this fails, there is whipping, and if that fails, expulsion. Nuns and younger boys may receive more merciful sentences, such as enforced fasting. If an expelled monk returns and makes amends, they may be readmitted, even up to a third time, but no more.

Nuns, it is said, often argue under influence of the devil. Quarrels must be ended as soon as possible. Anyone who injures a sister by word or deed must beg forgiveness, though a nun who refuses to forgive must be excluded from the community until she repents. The prioress who uses harsh words with a nun who is at fault need not beg forgiveness even if she is more severe than strictly needed, though in such cases she must ask God for forgiveness. More on women in the Church later. Anyway, back to the Benedictine Rule. Monks are provided two robes and cowls, a pair of sandals, stockings, a girdle, a knife, a pen, a needle, a towel and a writing tablet. Anything else is forbidden unless the abbot specifically allows it. Discipline for private property may include the removal of any or all of the above from a monk. However, keeping pets is both allowed and common. Without the abbot's approval, you may receive neither letters nor gifts, and any gifts are taken by the porter on arrival and given to the abbot to distribute as they see fit. Any wealth owned by a woman entering a nunnery is given to the abbess for benefit of the nunnery, and those entering a nunnery after marriage must rid themselves of all worldly wealth before taking the veil. Those who inherit after joining a monastery must dispose of the inheritance immediately. No nun may have a personal servant, but may be helped by younger nuns as needed.

Next time: Monastic ranks.

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